Hempstead, NY—In response to the staggering rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among youth in the U.S., Planned Parenthood of Nassau County is working with MTV, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to kick off National STD Awareness month with the return of the award-winning campaign, GYT: Get Yourself Tested.
As many as one in two sexually active young people will contract an STD by age 25 — and most won’t know it . GYT encourages Americans under age 25 to talk with health care providers and partners about getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). According to the CDC, this age group represents half of the estimated 19 million cases of STDs occurring in the United States each year. When left untreated, STDs can lead to an increased risk of HIV infection, infertility and cancer.
In its three health centers in Hempstead, Glen Cove and Massapequa, Planned Parenthood of Nassau County will be offering free HIV testing and low-cost STD testing during the month of April. In addition, PPNC will mark the month by a number of community activities. The agency kicked off GYT by launching “The Spot” a teen clinic offering youth-friendly reproductive health care, support and information. Student interns have been tabling on the campus of Hofstra University, and an event co-sponsored by several campus groups will be held on April 28th.
In 2009, GYT helped fuel an increase in STD testing among young people under the age of 25 at Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide, including a 36 percent increase in the number of male STD testing patients and an 18 percent increase in the number of female STD testing patients from the previous year in ten nationally representative Planned Parenthood health centers. These increases were particularly noteworthy in communities of color, with a 38 percent increase over 2008 in the number of African-American female STD testing patients and a 20 percent increase in the number of Latina STD testing patients. Locally, PPNC had a 5% increase in STD testing last April as a result of GYT.
“The doctors and nurses at PPNC hear from young patients all the time that talking about getting tested is truly difficult but such a relief once they get talking,” said JoAnn D. Smith, PPNC President & CEO. “We know that the GYT campaign works. In the first year of the campaign, Planned Parenthood of Nassau County saw an increase in testing and we are committed to increasing the number of young people who get tested again this year. The good news is that testing for many STDs is simple, it doesn’t hurt, often does not even involve needles.”
Planned Parenthood of Nassau County (PPNC) is one of 89 affiliates of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and operates 3 health centers in Nassau County. In 2009, PPNC provided services to more than 13,000 patients during 26,000 visits. We conducted education workshops and street outreach to 32,000 teens and families, and mobilized approximately 5,500 advocates to protect reproductive health care rights. PPNC has served the community for 77 years, and is dedicated to educating and empowering individuals to make responsible choices regarding their sexuality and sexual health. For more information about PPNC’s services and programs, visit www.ppnc.org.